tv Nancy Grace HLN August 16, 2009 1:00am-2:00am EDT
there at la fitness. and the cops are drinking it all in. scratching the ear. yeah, we feel bad for you. >> we want to help your husband, okay? >> you want to help your husband, you go. >> please, no, no. >> i want to thank you for being with us. a young mother with five little children in her minivan, barreled down the wrong way on a packed interstate, slamming into another vehicle. tally? eight dead. one child hanging on to life by a thread. tragedy? yes. accident? no. toxicology reports mommy high on booze and pot. but tonight authorities hone in on daddy.
>> the nightmare began with 36-year-old diane schuler with five kids in her minivan, mistakenly turned on to the taconic parkway's exit ramp. >> schuyler was apparently disoriented when she drove onto the ta conic parkway. >> the minivan continued in the wrong direction on the parkway for 1.7 miles before it hit this suv, carrying three men who were killed on impact. the minivan with the kids then careened into a third car, rolled down this embankment and burst into flames. >> toxicology reports found schuler was twice over the legal alcohol limit and showed evidence of marijuana use. >> it's difficult for me to believe that nobody knew the propensity of this woman to drink and have drugs. i think it's extremely unusual, extremely suspicious. i think that the family should have immediately notified the state police to stop that vehicle. they knew the license plate. and not let her proceed. yet they let her proceed. >> the question's asked, did she
have an alcohol problem, did you know her to go to bars? >> absolutely not. >> did you know her to get drunk and act -- >> i never saw her drunk since the day i met her. >> well, that's all well and good for the family attorney to throw softball questions at the client, the mom's husband, when there's nobody there to cross-examine him. let's get right down to the real nitty-gritty. out to sophia hall reporter with wcbs news radio 880. what can you tell me about the possibility, authorities are taking a look at daddy tonight, specifically child protective services? >> cps is looking at daniel schuler. they basically want to know how much he did know that day. did he supply his wife with booze and pot. and it all is because of the 5-year-old brian schuler, the couple's little boy. he is in the hospital right now. he was critically injured. however, he possibly could get out and live back with his
father again. but i'm being told by authorities that he could lose custody, the father, of this little boy if it's found out that he knew she was going to drive drunk and high on marijuana. and also, even before this happened, did the -- did diane schuler always drink and smoke pot in their household. >> out to you our producer standing by in west babylon, new york, there at the schuyler home. welcome. what can you tell me about admissions, whether intentionally or intentionally made that mommy's not afraid of a joint. she's not afraid of a big fat doobie. >> nancy, it's all very unclear. i'm out here in the neighborhood where this family resides. and i've been knocking on doors, speaking with neighbors. they're being very quiet. however, what i can tell you is that there's been very little
activity in front of the home. but nancy, the car, the truck owned by daniel schuler has been parked here. my understanding is that this little boy is doing better, and he may or may not very shortly be released from the hospital. >> to michael ayman, michael, thank you for being with us, reporter with "news day." he's joining us from melville, new york. it's a pleasure to have you with us. michael, what can you tell me about statements made that the mother did use pot socially, that she did smoke pot? >> well, new york state police have told me that when they interviewed daniel schuler about his wife's medical conditions, they also asked him, did she do drugs recreationally, did she drink at all. and what he told them was that she was a social drinker and she occasionally smoked pot. now, we have spoken to people who have seen her being a social drinker, having a drink here or a drink there. i have not been able to find
anyone else who saw her smoking marijuana or knew her to smoke marijuana. however, that is what her husband told police. >> with that level of alcohol, approximately ten drinks are still in her at this time. around that level of alcohol, you also start to get what's called tunnel vision, where your perception is changed, so you can't see peripherally all the time, depending on the tolerance that you have to alcohol.
nearly two miles on a new york highway with five children inside her minivan. they struck an suv with three adults head-on. eight people were killed. >> they were just a really normal family. she was polite to everybody. she was very quiet. and i have to be honest with you, she has had us all in a state of shock. >> toxicology reports show her blood alcohol was 0.19. and she had marijuana in her system as well. >> there was an absolut bottle of vodka, 1.75 litters, broken bottle that was found in the driver's passenger see the actually of the floor. police are not able to determine if she had consumed the alcohol from that particular bottle. they said she was traveling south in the northbound lanes, and witnesses originally on that highway said that she was actually keeping the car steady for 1.7 miles. 30 minutes before the crash, diane called her brother to say she was disoriented and having trouble seeing. he told her to stay put, that he
would come and get her. instead, she kept driving. the brother then called police to alert them about his sister's call. but they couldn't locate her in time to prevent the tragedy. >> it is possible that there was some type of medical condition. but again, we are awaiting the autopsy results. >> accidents involving drivers going the wrong way on the parkway, or ramp, i believe six cellular 911 phone calls that were received reporting her driving the wrong way. >> straight out to rupa standing by at the schuyler home. what medical conditions could possibly explain this away? >> the schuler attorney has come out and indicated maybe some type of diabetes. >> whoa, huh-uh. you only have diabetes when she was pregnant. was she pregnant, rupa?
>> she was not. >> continue. >> the diabetes, she also suffered from some type of unidentified lump on her leg and also a tooth abscess. those are the theories put forth by her lawyer, or by her husband's lawyer. >> dr. maroney, please, throw me a bone. okay? a lump on your leg, an abscessed tooth? then later one of the statements i believe given by the family attorney is, something happened in her brain? >> the autopsy from the medical examiner was very specific. it looked for stroke, heart attack and dissecting aneurysm, and it was negative on all those counts. the only thing that would have put her out would have been a stroke. didn't happen. >> out to the lines. chris in california. hi, chris. >> caller: hi, nancy. watch your show all the time and i have twins who are going to be 18 and just bless you. >> you know, i could use all the advice you can send me in an e-mail. my mind is open. okay? what's your question, dear?
>> caller: okay. my question is, if everybody's so sure that this woman didn't drink or have a problem with that, does anybody know what has happened, like the hour or two before she got in that van? >> yeah, back to you, sophia haul hall with wcbs radio 880. didn't she leave around 9:00, 9:30 in the morning for about -- i believe it was either 90 or 150-mile trip, and now this is four something hours later? what did she do during all that time? >> okay. so she left a campground in new york, and went to mcdonald's. now, according to the employees at mcdonald's, she seemed fine. no problems. the kids seemed fine. she supposedly got back in her minivan, actually with her -- it was her brother's minivan and started driving. then there were four phone calls made. one at 11:30. she talked to her brother, said, you know what, hit a little bit of traffic. but your girls, who were in the car, three of them, will be home
in time for their afternoon activities. another phone call at noon. don't know exactly who she talked to. that hasn't been released yet. apparently it was a relative. an unidentified relative. then at 1:00 she talked to her brother again, and this is where everything went into action sort of here, because the brother said, are you okay? she said, no, you know, i'm feeling sick. you know, things are spinning around. the brother said, look, stay where you are. at the time she was at a pull-off area near the tapin-z bridge. apparently she didn't stay there for whatever reason, we don't know. and we also don't know how her cell phone stayed there on the pull-off area. in fact, investigators made that discovery a couple days later, after this crash. >> unleash the lawyers. victim's rights advocate out of california jurisdiction, gloria allred. author of "how can you defend those people," mickey sherman
out of new york. and stacey schneider also out of new york. come on, mickey. i was at mcdonald's yesterday morning, and i'd been up since about 4:00 a.m. with the twins. they probably thought i was drunk. i could hardly see. i was trying to order some little hash browns and then i miss took them for a burger king and said some apple fries. anyway, long story short, how much contact do you really have with the clerk at the counter of mcdonald's? >> well, i -- >> not too much. >> very little. by the same token, they obviously made some observations and they didn't find this woman was out of her mind drunk which is what the evidence would suggest. but you know what -- >> mickey, probably knowing you and your high living lifestyle, i bet you can't remember the last time you were in a mcdonald's. >> yesterday. >> yeah, gloria? >> yeah. well, i've been to mcdonald's. and i would doubt the interaction between the clerk and the customer is long enough for the clerk to make that observation or maybe they don't even have the expertise to make an evaluation. >> stacey schneider, if he knew
that she had had pot shortly before this trip, is liable? >> you mean the husband, nancy? >> yes. no, he's not criminally liable. the only thing that they could get him on is if he let his children get into the car with her when she was high, or intoxicated, then he could be charged with reckless endangerment. that could affect his child custody rights as well. but he'd have to know. >> gloria allred, mickey, stacey schneider, we're all taking your calls. are you guilty of being our show's number one fan? plead your case. send us your story as to why you are that fan. we're looking for standout stories and if your e-mail or i-report makes the air, you win an autographed copy of my new novel, "the eleventh victim" and a chance to come to the show live on this set. get busy with those video cam and e-mails. go to cnn.com/nancy grace.
cnn, headlines news, or msnbc are locked on your favorites? if they are i've got the gift for you. i'm gonna richardson and my next guest is ken pullson. a pleasure to have you here. >> good to be with you >> what is the museum. most people know. >> sometimes there you an a museum in articling ton, virginia called the museum. it was an effort to remind
americans of the value of news gathering in america and a nod to the first amendment. we did so well there so we decided to take it where the action is. we have a brand new museum called a the museum on pennsylvania avenue. it's a -- it's a 45 word sign out front with the words of the first amendment 'em blazed there. we think it's healthy for them to read that says congress shall make no law. we're attempting to put it in neon. >> it is flashing? >> it's not a tribute to journalists. we had a blogger say i'm not going to set foot in that museum until they do an extra special to copy editors. it is not about you. it is a museum of history but a
different kind that reports what happened over the last several centuries through the eyes of journalists. so you get contemporary coverage of the assassination of kennedy and arrival of the beatles and the civil war and fascinating >> exactly. what have the visitors reactions been for the first year? exciting. we see the full range of course. tremendous amount of school groups and a lot of tourists visiting washingt washingto was. we bill ourselves as the world's most interactive museum. young people can play the part of a reporter or an editor or a journalist. we can even stand up in front of what you and your business called blue screen, to tape a broadcast announcement for their friends and family and then send it out to friends at home. amazing exhibits there.
i well tell you, i can say this with some degree of humility. i just joined the museum in february, i've been the editor of u.s. a. today for the last five years. we have the largest piece of the berlin wall in north america. you can go there and see that and the guard tower in collaboration and partnership with the f.b. i.we celebrate their 100th anniversary and we have phenomenal artifacts. we have the unibomber's cabin believe it or not. and depending on your age, some of your viewers probably remember patty hurst and her tenure with the liberation army. we have the gun she used in the bank robbery and the leather jacket she wore. we have can coverage including
dillinger's death mask and the bullet pruf vest he zn wear on that night >> with you have so many different exhibits. what do you have planned for us your second year? >> one of the great things about working for a museum where news is in the title we're updating and reflect the headlines in the museum. not long ago when there was an uproar in iran we covered the social network and the twittering. when newspapers have collapsed and some markets we quickly reported that. upcoming exhibits include: throughout the next year you'll be able to see manhunt exhibit about the assassination of abraham lincoln and barack ob a obama. >> i'm so sorry. we've run out of time but
the horrific highway crash that took the lives of 36-year-old diane schuler, her 2-year-old daughter, erin, and her nieces, 8-year-old emma, and 7-year-old allison and 5-year-old kate. >> she was fine. we had a cup of coffee in the morning. we packed the cars up like we always do. we headed out. just like every other weekend, or every weekend we go up there. >> daniel schuler defended his wife, dispuing a recent medical examiner's report that diane schuler was drunk and high when she drove into oncoming traffic on a new york highway.
>> she is not an alcoholic. and my heart has rested every night when i go to bed. something medically had to have happened. >> her minivan collided head-on with another car. new york guy bestarde was killed along with his 81-year-old father and a 74-year-old family friend. their family's tragedy made worse by the possibility schuler may have been intoxicated. >> how do you put five children in a car when you're a mother and you're drunk? how do you do that? it's incomprehensible. >> i think anyone that knows contributed to this, should be brought to justice in one way or another. >> sad. very sad. upset. lost my daughter, lost my wife. all i have is my son. >> are you angry at your wife? >> no, i'm not angry at her. that is normal. she was fine. we had a cup of coffee in the
morning, we packed the cars up like we always do, and we headed out. just like every other weekend, or every weekend we go up there. >> my investigators have already interviewed people at the campsite. no one saw her that morning with alcohol, drunk, acting strange. >> the opposite. >> the opposite. she was happy. talking to people. gave a kiss good-bye to the owner of the camp and that person smelled her breath. there was definitely no alcohol when she left that campsite. >> tonight we learn that authorities are focusing on the daddy. did he know his wife was drunk and high on marijuana, in the car with all of these children? a crash that claims the lives of eight. one child left. clinging to life in the hospital tonight. brian schuler.
straight back out to the lines. denise in oklahoma. hi, denise. >> caller: hey, nancy. i'd like to thank you for being an advocate for victims. i've been a victim of a violent crime and i think that you're an angel for doing what you do for us. >> i am no angel but i am grateful for your kind words. thank you. >> caller: god bless you. my husband and i have been married 12 years, we know each other like a book. that father, that husband knew what his wife was doing. and how he could let those children get in that vehicle is just unbelievable. also, if it's in dispute from the husband about her marijuana use, or her alcoholic use, will they test the hair to see how far back she has been smoking marijuana? >> good question, denise in oklahoma. let me tell you something. my husband is known to occasionally enjoy a cigar. and i said, listen, the doctors
told me in intensive care when these children were born, they can't be around anybody that's even got secondhand smoke on them because it's linked to sids, sudden infant death syndrome. it is absolutely not okay. i don't want to be the big party pooper, but it's not okay. not for a long time, much less pot and booze. are you kidding me? what about it, dr. morrone, how long can you trace pot in hair? >> you can go back a number of months. the body tends to hold tetrahydrocannabinol for a few months and release it slowly. in a chronic user you can test back a number of months. >> sherri, what's your question? >> caller: i keep hearing about the results of the toxicology report. but what does the coroner's autopsy say about the condition of the liver? if she had a chronic alcohol problem, shouldn't there be some evidence there? >> excellent question. what do we know, if anything, michael amon? >> i actually asked that
question of the district attorney's office today, and they told me that they -- that there was no sign that they know of liver damage, you know, any signs of chronic alcohol abuse in the autopsy report. i also called the m.e.'s office and they did not get back to me. however, right now, authorities are saying there's no signs of that, no signs of any underlying medical conditions. >> what about it, dr. morrone, how likely is it, even with someone that is an alcoholic for it to show up in your liver? >> you know, it depends on their genetics. i've seen livers in young people and they're firm and hard like a rock and yellow, and that's very alcoholic. and i've seen beefy red livers, and it depends. >> to dr. janet taylor, medical doctor and psychiatrist. dr. taylor, as always, it's wonderful to have you. what do you believe is going through the father's mind now? he's dealing with a horrible, horrible loss.
but at the same time, he's out there claiming he knows nothing about the booze, nothing about smoking pot before she gets behind the wheel with his children in the car. >> well, i hope that he's thinking about the quality of their relationship and looking at the possibility maybe she was depressed. was she bipolar, is there something he's missing not just it's not just medical -- >> but what does it have to do with the absolut vodka? >> one way people cope with depression is to drink. we're not looking at the possibility was this a suicide attempt? was she trying to kill herself and unfortunately these kids? because the fact is, we need to look at the underlying psychological problems and seeing if there's something that they're missing. she had a child two years ago. did she have post-partum depression? >> to john, former criminal investigator, president of the high-tech crime network. john, thank you for being with us. how can child protective services, cps, conduct this investigation? is it akin to a criminal investigation? >> absolutely.
in fact, one of the thing they have to do is take a look at the father, because he's the one who's going to get ahold of this son one day after this is all over. there is no way, in 15 minutes or a half hour that you can be a .019 alcohol blood content. i'm a former certified breathalyzer operator. i had to go through all the training and i can tell you this, it would take several hours to get where she was, and it's a synergistic effect with the alcohol. >> we are taking your calls live. very quickly, i want to tell you about the story of a newlywed, the bride orders a hit on hubby. what she didn't plan on is the hit man is, ruh-roh, a cop. take a listen. >> she was only married to her husband for six months before she allegedly wanted him dead. >> the motive appears to be money. that definitely is what his attorneys are alleging, that she had done this to obtain this condo. the day before, she met with the, what she thought was a hit man. she convinced him to transfer
the deed to the condo into solely her name. >> according to police, a male friend of hers, that's who tipped them off. they say when dahlia went to hire a hit man, they had an undercover officer ready to play the part. police say she had an alibi, and that she gave out photos of her husband, his schedule, the layout of their apartment. they say that they staged the murder scene at the home. and when she got there, they told her the news that her husband was dead. >> straight out to our chief editorial producer, elie. what can you tell me about hubby finally filing for divorce and a protective order? >> right, nancy. last friday, michael dip lee toe filed for divorce from his wife. in his petition, he lists that the wife allegedly hired a hit man to kill him. also, just before air, he got a restraining order. his lawyer says that michael fears for his life. he doesn't know what she's
capable of and he wanted to make sure there's an order keeping her away from him. >> and she's out on bond living with mommy. she's probably propped up on the sofa having chicken soup right now. very quickly to tonight's safety tips. teens getting ready for back to school and back behind the wheel. rules of the road for teen drivers. talk to your teen about safety. set ground rules. they've got to follow before handing over the keys. and hey, put the rules in writing. texting, cell phones, ipods while driving, major distraction. it causes fatal crashes. always wear seat belts. discourage speeding. make your teen responsible for tickets. drinking and driving, a major no-no. get a designated driver in place, or someone your teen can call for a ride home. for more information, please, go to kidshealth.org.
if it's 10:50, i should have been dead at like 9:00. >> detectives knocked on his door. they told him his wife was trying to kill him and staged a crime scene. his wife sobbed uncontrollably when she arrived. michael confronted her at the police station. >> we actually didn't break it to her. what we did, is when we moved her from the room that she was in, back to the cell block, or our booking area, the husband was standing in the detective room. which is kind of a wide-open space. and as she exited the room, she could see him standing there, very much alive. >> chief, what did she do? she was, to say the least, very surprised. >> did she really start crying for real? >> no. she was pretty much at that point at a loss for words. and -- >> ruh-roh. >> that's it.
>> they're breaking the news to her. of course, as all the cops know, she set the thing up, according to them. according to this cop that she's trying to hug, he barely got the words out, your husband -- and she started wailing. like she anticipated the bad news. another cop says, no matter how much she wailed, she couldn't squeeze out a tear. i love the guy biting his fingernail and looking around. there he goes, scratch the ear. straight out to hugh nolan, investigative reporter.
hugh, what can you tell news what's the latest? >> well, things certainly have been moving fast. maybe that befits the situation where they went from i do, to a reported alleged hit in about six months. of course, the video we were just watching, that sting operation took place only last wednesday. that was the day of dahlia dippolito's arrest. by thursday she was out on $25,000 bond and an attorney had filed an action to try to recover from her the property that she had persuaded her husband to sign over to her just days before. friday, of course, a petition for dissolution of marriage is filed again on behalf of michael. here we are on monday and we have a new petition for an injunction that has been filed on michael's behalf. >> to john, friend of the intended victim, michael dippolito, the new hubby. john, what can you tell me about the husband filing this protective order? i mean, she is out on bond. >> hi, nancy. how are you doing? >> repeat? >> hello. >> hi, dear.
your friend filed an order of protection. is he concerned she may try again? >> absolutely. >> why? absolutely well, i mean we're all in shock that she's been put out on bail, number one. somebody like this should really be behind bars. >> and there you see her walking along. she was a workout enthusiast, let me say, and planned her alibi according to police to be at the la fitness center, probably bopping along on the elliptical listening to an ipod at the very time her husband was supposed to be murdered. what more have we learned about them as a couple, how they met, the whole shebang? >> well, this morning on the "today" show, michael dippolito, said that that morning that his wife went to the gym, she even offered to stop and pick up star bubs for him on the way back. now, they actually met at the starbucks. >> wait, wait, wait. she offered to bring back starbucks.
okay. pause. mickey sherman, stacey schneider, gloria allred. so mikki what, did she do, put extra raisins in his cereal for him that morning? what was his last meal? how do you go about this? you're planning your husband's shooting death in the head. do you still sleep with him the night before, just kind of a send-off? fix a special gourmet meal for breakfast, or is it just like see you? yeah, i'll bring you that coffee when i come home. >> mocha choca, i'm going to kill you. >> oh, evidence. evidence. did she stop at starbucks or did she know that he wasn't going to be alive when she got home from starbucks? >> she was hoping he wouldn't be. cost her a few bucks to have him killed. how come we don't get to see the film of them telling her that he's alive. in florida they released every other video they've made. >> that's all you've got to say? why didn't they film him? okay, gloria, have at it. >> all i can tell you is, she's not going to need coffee. she's gotten a wakeup call from the police. what it appears she was trying
to do, didn't work. and now she's in very, very deep trouble. and this is apparently the conversations were recorded, conversations that she had with the confidential informant. also, the conversation she had with the person that she thought was going to do the hit. is reported. so she's going to have a very, very difficult time if she decides to not only plead not guilty, but go to trial. >> what i'm interested in is why judge boris is giving her such a low bond. we'll be back with stacey schneider when we get back, taking your calls. but right now, a special thank you to "good morning america" and gma host robin roberts for having me on today. it was this morning. not only about the twins, but my first novel. it comes out tomorrow morning, august 11th. "the eleventh victim." i wanted to get a shot of her but my head only came up to her knee. either she's a professional basketball player or professional model or both. also thank you,
you can show that shot again, rosie. to my friend bill o'reilly over at the fox network. we don't say it out loud here. for interviewing me about our show tonight. not only about our show here on hln and the cases we cover, but the book "eleventh victim." there is a brand-new book out by a best seller. the message of the book is that justice, the criminal justice system is not pristine. it's kind of like wrestling with a pig. you get dirty and the pig likes it. i think what led me to start writing the book was i suddenly only had one job for the first time since i was about 15. and i was really, really missing the courtroom. i think that this was cathartic when i wrote it, since at the
time that i began working on it, i still had prosecution running through my blood. it's a book that i started, it's very different from the book that i ended up with. i've been greatly influenced by a lot of wonderful, wonderful writers. like, dare i even mention, agatha christi. as i wrote and the characters developed, they took on their own life. i would never state that this book is anything but fiction. however, there may be some resemblances to episodes that happened in the courtroom when i was a prosecutor. and comparisons to certain judges that may have existed during that time. between the time i started writing this book, i went to nyu and got a master's degree in criminal and constitutional law. i wrote another book.